Contraception and Pregnancy Prevention

Habif continues to provide reproductive health services and all forms of contraceptive counseling to our patients, including IUD placement. If you are looking for information on abortion access, the Missouri Family Health Council’s abortion care resources page is one available source for you to consider.

To prevent unintended pregnancy

  • Use safe and reliable contraceptives, including long-acting reversible methods of contraception (LARCs)
    • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
    • Implants
  • Explore your options for more than a dozen forms of birth control​.
  • Schedule an appointment online with a Habif provider to learn more about which methods of contraception best align with your lifestyle and preferences.

Emergency Contraception

What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception (EC) is a “back up” birth control method used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, or when a contraceptive measure fails.  It is most effective if taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

Get the facts on emergency contraception.

There are two kinds of emergency contraception: IUDs and EC pills, all of which are available at Habif. We encourage you to call 314-935-6677 to speak with a nurse and learn about which EC option is right for you. If you prefer to schedule online, please schedule within 1-2 days after unprotected sex. Next-day appointments open up every evening.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

If you get the IUD inserted within 5 days after sex, it can lower the chance of pregnancy by 99.9%.

The IUD is a little t-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. The IUD is invisible, and you can choose hormonal or non-hormonal.  IUDs last for years, and you can have the IUD removed at any time if you want to get pregnant.

IUDs can cause mild to moderate pain when inserted and cramping for a few days after.

  1. Non-hormonal Intrauterine Device (Paragard)
  • Paragard is available at Habif and is covered by the WashU Student Health Insurance Plan/United Healthcare.
  1. Hormonal Intrauterine Device (Mirena, Liletta)
  • Mirena is available at Habif and is covered by the WashU Student Health Insurance Plan/United Healthcare

Emergency Contraception Pills

Emergency contraception pills (often referred to as the “morning after” pill) can prevent pregnancy by temporarily stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg. If your body has already started ovulating, EC pills may not be effective. This is why it is important to take the EC pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception pills may be used as needed, but they should not be substituted for regular, non-emergency birth control methods because they are not as effective or affordable.

Please note that EC pills are not the same as the abortion pill (also called medication abortion). Mifepristone, formerly known as RU-486 and sometimes called “the abortion pill,” is a drug that induces abortion when administered in early pregnancy. EC pills are used to prevent a pregnancy, not end one. EC pills do not cause or induce an abortion.

  1. Ulipristal acetate pill (Ella)
    • This EC pill can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex and can lower the chance of pregnancy by 85%.
    • This EC pill may not work for individuals who weigh more than 195 pounds.
    • Ella is available with a prescription from your health care provider.
  2. Levonorgestrel-based pills (Plan B One Step, Take Action, My Way, Option 2, Preventeza, AfterPill, My Choice, Aftera, EContra, and others)
    • These EC pills can work up to 5 days after unprotected sex, but effectiveness decreases each day. Levonorgestrel-based pills can lower the change of pregnancy by 75-89% and work best if taken within 3 days after unprotected sex.
    • These EC pills may not work for individuals who weigh more than 165 pounds.
    • Levonorgestrel-based pills are available directly from the Habif pharmacy during business hours.
    • A generic form of Plan B, called Option 2, is available at Bear Necessities on the South 40.
    • Plan B is available at no cost in the Zenker Wellness Suite (one per student while supplies last) and in generic form from Missouri Family Health Council, Inc.
    • Levonorgestrel-based pills may also be available for purchase over the counter without a prescription at a local pharmacy or online.

EC is safe. EC is FDA-approved and has been used by millions of women around the world safely and effectively. Some women report minor side effects such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, fatigue, headache, dizziness, breast tenderness and/or menstrual changes, depending on the type of EC used.  If you have questions about the possible side effects associated with the different types of EC, talk to your health care provider.

EC does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.  If you are concerned that you may have contracted an STI, please schedule an appointment.

What if I may have had non-consensual sex?

If you are using Emergency Contraception because of a sexual assault, please be aware that Washington University provides survivor support services through the ​Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center (RSVP) and other university systems. We encourage you to talk with professionals trained to listen to your concerns and provide guidance.

More Information